A Second Frankenstein Will Haunt NYC This Fall; Serious Musical Begins Oct. 10

News   A Second Frankenstein Will Haunt NYC This Fall; Serious Musical Begins Oct. 10 Frankenstein, the serious-minded musical inspired by Mary Shelley's gothic novel, will play Off-Broadway's 37 Arts starting Oct. 10 toward a Nov. 1 opening.
Frankenstein will open this fall Off-Broadway.
Frankenstein will open this fall Off-Broadway.

The stage version of the 19th-century novel is penned by Mark Baron (music) and Jeffrey Jackson (book and lyrics). Bill Fennelly directs. Gerald Goehring and Douglas C. Evans produce, in association with Michael F. Mitri and David S. Stone.

Original story adaptation credit goes to Gary P. Cohen. Casting will be announced shortly.

Frankenstein, A New Musical will bow in New York City in the same month as Mel Brooks' new Broadway musical comedy, Young Frankenstein.

An earlier plan had the 13-actor show aiming for a national tour following a fall launch at Paper Mill Playhouse. That changed due to Paper Mill's recent financial woes. Goehring and Evans said a New York run will help better position the property for a future tour.

In its development, the show was billed as a "bold new theatrical experience" rather than "a musical," but now it's "a new musical." Producer Evans told Playbill.com it was important to separate his show from the wealth of non-musical adaptations of the psychological sci-fi yarn. According to the producers, "Frankenstein tells the epic story of the rebel doctor who challenges the laws of nature and morality when he breathes life into his inanimate creature. Faced with intolerance and adversity, the doctor's creation also learns to rebel against world around him, ultimately destroying the very man who gave him life."

"Our goal was to create an adaptation that remains faithful to Shelley's original novel," writers Mark Baron and Jeffrey Jackson said in a statement. "Frankenstein has inspired nearly two centuries of adaptations in almost every medium imaginable. While today's audiences may be most familiar with the film adaptations, we've gone directly back to the source. In deconstructing one of the most popular story of all time, we hope to offer new a perspective for contemporary audiences."

The projection-filled, song-rich pop show, told in flashback, has a creative team that includes Thom Weaver (lighting designer), Michael Clark (projections designer) and Sound Associates (sound designer).

Director Fennelly is former artistic director of the Actor's Express in Atlanta. He was a resident director of The Lion King on tour.

Baron composed musical adaptations of Treasure Island and Snow White which both premiered at the Forum Theater in Metuchen, NJ, and The Reluctant Dragon, in collaboration with Gary P. Cohen. Jackson (book and lyrics) penned the screenplay "White Collared" and wrote, directed and starred in the acclaimed short film, "Our First Fight."

Performances will play Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 PM; Wednesday and Sunday at 3 PM; and Saturdays at 2 PM. Tickets go on sale Aug. 6 and $20 student rush tickets are available at all performances 20 minutes prior to curtain with valid student ID.

Call TicketMaster.com at (212) 307-4100. For more information, visit www.FrankensteintheMusical.com.

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37 Arts at 450 W. 37th Street was recently home to the Broadway-bound In the Heights.

In December 2006, Frankenstein had a private industry reading in Manhattan. Drew Sarich, of Broadway's current Les Misérables and the late Lestat, played Victor Frankenstein opposite Ron Bohmer as the Creature.

The famed monster was created by novelist Mary Shelley in 1818. Victor Frankenstein famously resurrects a cadaver — with tragic consequences.

Producer Evans previously told Playbill.com that he became aware of the developing property about four years ago, when the project was a more traditional book musical. The mix of moral issues, passion and love — the love between fathers and sons, primarily — "sung" to the producers.

Discussions between the writers and the new producers resulted in this latest version, seen in three enthusiastically-received workshop performances at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center Sept. 29-Oct. 1, 2006. Davis Gaines played Victor Frankenstein and Ron Bohmer was The Creature. Fennelly directed.

Frankenstein does not want to be camp or parody, Evans cautioned, but a faithful distillation of the passions and ideas of the novel, "Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus," about a doctor who brings a corpse back to life — and the mayhem that follows. The 1818 novel was revised and later released in an 1831 version.

Evans said, "When you see the last scene, and you see the interaction between these two men — essentially, a father and a son — it rips your heart out. For a musical that runs just about two hours and 10 minutes with intermission, it's sweepingly heavy and intense. The words that we use are 'epic' and 'sweeping.'"

The settings move around the world, from the Arctic to Europe, mirroring the action of the novel.

Don't expect an ugly, scarred monster of the past Hollywood movies or past theatre versions. The creature is a recently hanged man, not a 10-feet-tall, bolt-neck behemoth. His human scale makes the story more moving, Evans suggested.

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Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein, The Modern Prometheus" has inspired not a few stage versions and musical versions. Some examples:

  • Mel Brooks is currently working on a stage musical version of his film comedy "Young Frankenstein," which will play a Seattle tryout (starting Aug. 7) before opening this fall on Broadway. Book is by Brooks and Thomas Meehan, songs are by Brooks. Susan Stroman directs and choreographs.
  • Frank Wildhorn is working on a stage musical of the tale that incorporates Mary Shelley as a character.
  • In 1980-81, a special-effects-packed non-musical, Frankenstein, by Victor Gialanella, was, at the time, the most expensive production ever on Broadway. The flop won a Drama Desk Award for its potent lighting design.
  • In 2001, Prometheus Dreams, a musical exploration of the material, with music by Sean Michael Flowers and book and lyrics by Patrick Vaughn, was presented by The Human Race Theatre Company in Dayton, OH.
  • Frankenstein, the Musical, with book, music and lyrics by Robert Mitchell, played Off-Off-Broadway's Wings Theatre in 2006.
  • A show called Frankenstein…do you dream? appeared as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival in 2004, after beginning life in Canada.
  • Have I Got a Girl for You! The Frankenstein Musical had an Off-Broadway run in 1986.
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